Richard Crowley’s blog


In person, I have long been vocally dissatisfied with the state of terminal emulation on Mac OS X. The terminal is my home, yet on OS X, an otherwise stellar example of UNIX on the desktop, it feels hostile stubbornly stuck in the past. I have very seriously considered how I would execute the transition to a Thinkpad running Ubuntu but balked at the scope: it would require babysitting drivers at all times and giving up the Mac trackpad, backlit keyboard, FireWire 800, Mac hardware quality, and ultimately my iPhone. The terminal is the problem, anyway, let’s fix that.

My minimally featured terminal emulator supports 256 colors, copy, paste, and scrollback with the two-finger scroll gesture. is out because it’s still stuck in the 16 color stone ages. iTerm is up to spec but has me rebooting more often than never due to the q, r, s, t issue. The xterm that comes with Apple’s X11 doesn’t appear to support 256 colors.

That’s enough hype: rxvt-unicode is the winner. Gist 438773 will setup rxvt-unicode. It assumes you already have MacPorts.

If you’re a Vim user, you’ll want to set t_Co=256 in your .vimrc.